Indonesia Earthquake: Auto industry OK after strong quake image

A strong earthquake swayed tall buildings in Indonesia’s capital Monday afternoon but caused no tsunami or apparent damage to the industry.

The 6.1-magnitude earthquake at 6.18 p.m. local time (1118 GMT) was centered about 121 kilometers (75 miles) southwest of Sukabumi, a city in West Java. It struck about 24 kilometers (14.9 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to Indonesia’s seismological agency (BMKG).

Indonesia has frequent earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin, but it is uncommon for tremors to be felt in Jakarta.

Toyota, Japan’s largest carmaker said its factory in Cikampek, West Java, where the Innova, Avanza, Fortuner are made is ok, and there are no casualties. The Japanese automaker is expanding in Indonesia, where its Daihatsu Motor Co. unit operates two plants making Avanza minivans, as part of a plan to increase emerging market sales to about half the total by 2015.

Toyota is the biggest carmaker in Indonesia, controlling about 60 percent of the market when sales from its Daihatsu unit are included.

On the same time, PT. Honda Prospect Motor in Sunter, North Jakarta said there are no problems – hours after the Japanese carmaker held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of the construction work of a new facility.

The new Indonesian plant represents an investment of approximately 3.1 trillion Indonesian rupiah (about US$326 million) for Honda and will have an estimated annual production capacity of 120,000 units. Together with Honda’s current volume of 60,000 units, the company’s total annual production capacity in the country will be 180,000 units.

A giant 9.1-magnitude quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, half of them in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh.

Vehicle sales in Indonesia by all makers will probably exceed 1 million units by 2013, Yasuhiro Takahashi, Toyota’s group manager of operations for Asia and Oceania, said last year.

Indonesia attracted a national record of $20 billion in foreign direct investment last year as its GDP rose 6.5%. Moody’s last month upgraded Indonesia’s debt to investment grade—another sign of Indonesia’s economic coming of age.